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R.I.P. Maya Angelou, legendary poet dead at 86

on May 28, 2014, 9:49am

Maya Angelou, the renowned author and poet, has died at the age of 86.

Angelou, who had been battling health problems as of late, was found by her caretaker in Winston-Salem, NC on Wednesday morning, according to the city’s mayor.

Aside from her vast achievements in the worlds of literature and poetry, Angelou also dabbled in music. In 1957, prior to achieving worldwide fame as an author, she released an album of calypso music entitled Miss Calypso. Working alongside Tommy Tedesco (the mastermind behind iconic TV themes for M*A*S*H and Batman), Angelou capitalized on the Afro-Caribbean genre first made popular by Harry Belafonte, crafting an exotic album suited for the nightclub. She supported the album’s release by touring various venues across the U.S. and achieved mild commercial success. Though she has since dismissed the importance of the album, it’s still considered one of the defining works in the calypso genre and was reissued on CD in 1995.

Her thought-provoking, socially-conscious lyrics also inspired many in the hip-hop community, most notably rapper Common, who she collaborated with on his 2011 album, The Dreamer/The Believer. Angelou recited one of her poems on album’s opening track, “The Dreamer”, though she later criticized the collaboration after learning that Common’s subsequent verses included the ‘N-word’.

Below, sample a selection of Angelou’s musical contributions:

6 comments

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VERNO BALMER JR.
May 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Arye Michael Bender’s concise but incisive sharing of his experience in the presence of MAYA ANGELOU, on FACEBOOK, caused me to reflect more on my personal appreciation of her gifts.

So much is to be learned through knowledge of her life and sharing of her talents. My comment on his post is due to the appreciation not just of her literary talents that most AMERICANS familiar with her works would have, but the fact of her accomplishments in other languages. The success of not only being literate in the language of her birth, but to speak many others and also be literate in at least two of those is what greatness means.

To know of her accomplishments in spite of personal traumas, obstacles, set-backs, 2 or 3 strikes against her, whatever, is pure inspiration.

When I reflect on her life, I know only she could have written “I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS”.

To be blessed with such an indomitable spirit and self-possession also defined her greatness, the ability to lift others to even a momentary celebration of her triumphs that could plant seeds for a later and deeper strength to be revealed in the reflection of her life in total.

In spite of her hardships, I remember her gentleness, kindness and patience with others – her inclination to reveal, teach and inspire. How she could lead someone, enveloping them in her measured cadence while gently steering and stroking with compliments and sometimes backhanded ones along the way, until she’d lay one low with a subliminally reasonable question, or the bombs she could drop that would dispel self-delusion. No one else could have written “And still I rise”, but she who could inspire song in others by the freedom to blow her own soul.

Jeff Scott (@CrazyAssFarm)
May 28, 2014 at 1:10 pm

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Dr. Maya Angelou. Who worried in poetry if she will fit properly in her wings. I’m confident she did! RIP Sweet Lady!

Nomhle Mnguni
May 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm

You have made your contribution to society, a gift to the world you were, a legend never to be forgotten. We celebrate your life. Rest in peace…

Kira Buckner
May 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

I will miss you Ms.Angelou. you were a fantastic writer and the emotion that you gave in your poetry was indescribable. R.I.P.

katleho motaung sa
May 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

rest in peace you shall be remembered…

Patricia Moses
May 28, 2014 at 10:25 am

Rest in Peace beautiful lady.

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